In a nutshell, managed network services is a way to outsource the day-to-day management of your information technology needs. A managed IT provider (also labeled as managed service provider, MSP, or managed network provider) can supplement your in-house IT department or become your IT department, depending on your business goals, internal IT savvy, and budget.
In other words, a managed IT provider (or partner as we like to say) is essentially your IT department (and a good one will be invested in your success as a company). When you outsource your network or other aspect of IT, your managed IT partner proactively manages information technology assets on behalf of a customer. This differs from traditional IT which is a reactive service built around a break and fix model.
Managed IT providers focus on preventing your IT infrastructure from breaking – providing your employees with continual access to the tools they need to do their jobs. Partnering with a managed IT partner allows small and medium businesses to run their business on technology that would be beyond their budgets as a capital investment.
A great managed IT provider will be a real partner for a business, helping to identify how IT can be used to best achieve a company’s overall goals. IT becomes a strategic asset, not a cost center.
There are various levels of service that can be outsourced, from network monitoring and alerts that a company will then fix internally to full-fledged monitoring and problem resolution.
The Challenge of Managing Networks
Of course, it is possible for companies to manage their own networks – sometimes even cost-effectively. Even so, there are opportunity costs from devoting resources into internal maintenance of a service that you could outsource (and thereby freeing budget to focus on more revenue-generating IT initiatives).
Here are only a few common challenges of network management done in-house:
- Reducing network overhead costs while increasing network services
- Supporting dynamic business growth with restricted budgets and staffing levels
- Needing to respond quickly to time-to-market demands
- Implementing new technologies to maintain competitiveness
- Supporting new business operations and markets or integrating acquisition
- Managing, maintaining, and upgrading network infrastructure and management systems
- Delivering high-quality, high-availability network services to meet 24-hour demand
- If your office has voice over IP, ensuring that voice traffic and call quality have sufficient priority
- Securing data, transactions, and communications to keep up with the latest security threats, as well as meeting privacy and security regulations
- Delivering services to more remote offices and workers
- Finding, recruiting, and retaining certified network professionals
- Helping staff stay current with new technologies and skills
- Focusing employees on core competencies and mission-critical processes, rather than network support
What is included in Outsourced IT Support?
Common elements included in a managed network services partnership include:
- Day-to-day help desk support
- Data Recovery
- Network Management and security
- Email security
- Block spam, phishing scams, malware, and other inappropriate email content before it can get inside of your network.
- Detailed reporting allows you to see the applications and personnel taking up the majority of your network resources. Monitoring also provides insight into traffic bottlenecks and peak periods so that you can add more capacity when needed and prevent your employees from becoming frustrated.
Depending on the company, these services may only be sold bundled together or à la carte. This is also only a partial list of managed network/IT services.
The Managed Network Business Advantage
Yes, you’ll save money by moving from a break/fix model of addressing your IT infrastructure to a managed IT services arrangement. But there are advantages beyond simply saving money:
- Predictable budgeting – one set fee for services
- Access to leading network technologies and management expertise, without high capital expenditures or ongoing investments in upgrades, IT staffing, and maintenance resources
- Proactive management of the network allows preventative maintenance of equipment as well as immediate notification of fault
- Free your internal IT staff from network support so they can focus on strategic projects
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs) guarantee predictable response and resolution times for network problems and establish what is and isn’t covered in the relationship
Do I Need Help Managing My Network?
Understanding whether or not you need some help is as simple as looking at your existing IT department or managed IT provider and making sure that your technology needs are being met. If you have a lot of unexpected costs, large amount of downtime on computers, or are unsure of whether or not you have the right IT systems in place, you should engage an MSP for a needs assessment.
Coordinated will work with you beginning with a simple assessment to identify where your IT systems are lacking – and where you're doing well.